Monday, November 15, 2010

R.I.P. Patty Plymouth Rock

It is completely illogical if you take the trouble to look twice. Don’t I eat chicken on a regular basis? I am excessively fond of curried chicken, I also dote on coq au vin and chicken soup with quinoa; I would walk a mile for good chicken molé. I like chicken korma and chicken Marengo and Moroccan lemon chicken. Tarragon chicken was a childhood favorite, which reminds me: why hasn’t my mother cooked it lately?
All of the above chickens were undeniably dead when I cooked and ate them.
So why the lamentations, the gnashing of teeth, the tearing of hair and rending of garments?
Oh, woe, our first dead chicken.
But, as CSB gently reminded me, it was far from our first. What about all those roosters dispatched to a stewpot in Yonkers? Don’t they count? Wasn’t the strutting, tootling Alonso the very first of our chickens to die? Is it their maleness, their testosterone-laden morning alarums, that disqualifies them from being the object of mourning?
When I examine my reactions, it is hard not to infer a certain gynocentric-favoritism.

It came about thus:
Friday morning I visited the chickens and saw one of the Plymouth Rocks perched atop a cross beam, her rump facing my direction. She was trying with all her might to push out an egg and she was not having an easy time of it. I sympathized, as any mother would. The egg was about a third of the way out, and covered with blood. With effort, she would push it out farther and then several other hens, below her on the ground, would peck at the emerging egg. I shooed away the annoying harpies, while the laboring hen pushed and the egg came out further, then receded back into her bloody cloaca. I stroked her back and tried to make encouraging and midwifey cooing sounds. Other hens came around to bother. I stroked her and nudged them away. Finally she expelled the bloody egg, hopped off the perch, shat and wandered away.
About an hour later I returned and found her inside the chicken house, supine and dead on a nest of fresh wood shavings in the far corner beneath the nesting boxes. Other hens stood around showing varying degrees of lack of interest. I wrapped her in an old white sheet and put her in the garden shed, because I was about to leave for Linwood and wouldn’t have time to bury her, and I certainly could not leave her with her cannibalistic brethren, that is, her sistren.
Poor thing. Our first dead chicken, I thought melodramatically.
All afternoon, as I drove in my shiny new red car towards tree peonies and dairy farms and the Soaring Capital of America, I considered the brief life of our Barred Plymouth Rock, she who, at one-day-old, arrived at our local post office and come to live with us, along with a dozen other chicks, presumably her siblings, but not necessarily.

My face grew red and blotchy, my eyes became puffy and itchy and my skin tingled and prickled. Even I began to see this was an overreaction to a pullet’s demise. After all, such is nature.
It turns out I am allergic to my new car. After considering and rejecting several other theories, it became clear that the only possible cause for such bodily disruptions was the new car, with its Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) exhaling and out-gassing.
And yes, if you Google new car allergy, you will find that I am far from the first person to have identified this syndrome. But I may be the first to have initially confused the symptoms with chicken grief.

1 comment:

Rebecca Rice said...

What a delightful post! I still think chicken grief is the more likely explanation for your tears! And, b/t/w, thanks for teaching me a new word, cloaca, which I had to look up!